Tag Archives: interpersonal speaking

Strategies for Building Speaking Confidence

Building speaking confidence in language learners is a gradual journey, and it starts with tailoring activities to their specific proficiency levels. Let’s look at some activities and procedures that progressively build speaking confidence across various ACTFL proficiency levels.

I’m including examples to illustrate language output at different proficiency levels, from simple sentences for novice learners to more complex language for intermediate levels. As students progress, they can confidently communicate their thoughts and ideas in the target language.

Novice Low to Novice Mid

At these levels, learners may feel hesitant about speaking. Activities like picture description provide a comfortable starting point. By focusing on simple vocabulary and asking them to describe familiar visuals, students build foundational speaking confidence. Frequent practice in a supportive environment helps them develop essential speaking skills and overcome initial apprehension.

  • “I see a red apple.”
  • “Je vois une pomme rouge.”
  • “Veo una manzana roja.”

Novice High to Intermediate Low

As students progress, role-playing offers them opportunities to take on different personas, effectively bridging the gap between novice and intermediate levels. By engaging in real-life scenarios, they begin to express themselves more naturally, helping boost their speaking confidence.

  • “I’d like a coffee, please.”
  • “Je voudrais un café, s’il vous plaît.”
  • “Me gustaría un café, por favor.”

Intermediate Mid to Intermediate High

Debates and discussions are ideal for students aiming to reach intermediate-high proficiency. These activities require more nuanced language use and promote critical thinking. By encouraging structured debates, students not only express their opinions confidently but also engage in active listening and respond effectively—a crucial aspect of speaking fluency.

  • “In my opinion, environmental conservation is a global responsibility.”
  • “À mon avis, la conservation de l’environnement est une responsabilité mondiale.”
  • “En mi opinión, la conservación del medio ambiente es una responsabilidad global.”

Building Confidence Through Progression

Regardless of proficiency levels, here are some overarching strategies that progressively enhance speaking confidence:

  1. Positive Reinforcement: Recognize and celebrate small victories. Acknowledge their improvements, no matter how incremental, to boost confidence.
  2. Vocabulary Enrichment: Introduce relevant vocabulary for each activity. As students acquire new words, they gain confidence in expressing themselves accurately.
  3. Scaffolded Support: Provide sentence starters or question prompts, especially for novice and intermediate learners, to help them articulate their thoughts.
  4. Recording Practice: Allow students to record their speaking. Over time, they’ll notice their progress and feel more confident in their abilities.
  5. Consistency is Key: Consistent practice is essential. Frequent speaking activities gradually normalize speaking in the target language, reducing anxiety and bolstering confidence.

By implementing these activities and strategies, language teachers can guide their students on a journey toward increased speaking confidence. Whether they’re just starting or aiming for advanced proficiency, gradual progression through tailored activities and continuous practice ensures that students develop the skills and self-assuredness they need to become confident speakers in the target language.

Quiz, Quiz Trade in the Language Classroom

Quiz, Quiz, Trade is one of those go-to activities that gets students speaking and moving around.  Once they know how it works you can pull it out anytime for speaking practice, idea generation, an opening activity or review of a topic.  The possibilities are endless.

Quiz, Quiz Trade in the Language Classroom, French and Spanish

This highly effective strategy has proven to be a valuable asset for learners of all proficiency levels, from novices to those at the intermediate high level. Let’s look at how to set it up, manage it effectively, and consider follow-up activities that can enhance language proficiency.

Setting up Quiz, Quiz, Trade

Prepare Question Cards: Create question cards with prompts related to your chosen topic. You can tailor these prompts to different proficiency levels. For example:

  • Novice Low: Basic vocabulary with words or pictures
  • Novice Mid: yes/no, either/or questions.
  • Novice Mid: Simple questions about daily routines or preferences.
  • Intermediate Low: Questions about hobbies or school with more detail using questions words to bring out more information.
  • Intermediate Mid: Question in different time frames and questions based on a class reading or video.
  • Intermediate High: Open-ended questions on global issues or cultural comparisons.

Distribute Cards: Hand out one question card to each student.

Managing the Activity

Pairing Up: Have students pair up and stand facing each other, holding their cards.

Questioning: Instruct students to take turns asking and answering the questions on their cards in the target language. Encourage question askers to:

  • Listen actively to their partner’s responses, noting any interesting details.
  • Ask follow-up questions to further the conversation. For example, if the question is about hobbies, they can ask, “Why do you enjoy that hobby?” or “How often do you do it?”

Trading Cards: After both students have asked and answered, they trade cards. This ensures that they interact with different prompts and partners.  Students then seek out a new partner.  You can have “available” students raise their hand so that they can locate each other.  I usually say that you can’t go back to the same person after already speaking so that friends extend their circle.  Students may get the same question back several times as cards rotate.  No problem. More practice with that question.

I also put myself in the mix so that I have some one-on-one time with students and can keep track of any areas that may need additional attention, such inaccurate vern forms or inconsistent use of singular and plural.  Formative information for me.

Repeat: Continue the process for a set amount of time.  I also introduce new cards throughout, usually replacing the cards that I get with a new prompt as I integrate into the activity.  This keeps the prompts fresh so that students don’t get repeat prompts.

Follow-Up Activities

Discussion: Have students share interesting answers they received during Quiz, Quiz ,Trade and facilitate a class discussion on the topic.

Writing Assignment: Assign a writing task based on the same topic. Students can expand on the ideas discussed during Quiz, Quiz ,Trade.

Debate: For intermediate mid/high students, turn the questions into debate topics, encouraging them to argue their viewpoints in the target language.

The key to success with Quiz, Quiz, Trade is providing clear instructions and monitoring the activity (be a part of it) to ensure students stay on track. It’s a versatile tool that can be adapted to suit your specific language teaching goals and proficiency levels.

By incorporating Quiz, Quiz, Trade into your language classroom, you’ll not only see improved language proficiency but also foster a fun and interactive learning environment.